Monday, May 17, 2004



Just got back from a mini five-day holiday with Tito. The longest time we’ve had, just the two of us, in Peru (by far!). Slim Shady melodiously accompanied us on a romantic drive down the Pan American highway to a little tumble-down port town called Pacasmayo. It was formerly very prosperous, and has quite a number of lovely old colonial buildings which are in various states of repair/disrepair. The state of Peru’s ports are a huge warning against privatisation. Private companies completely destroyed Peru’s previously successful export of sugar, sea salt, rice and fish powder by chasing huge profits for individuals without thought for the workers or upkeep of facilities. Pacasmayo used to run a steam engine along the pier, the rail still remains in places, now rusting away in the salty air. The formerly grand customs building is derelict; the neighbouring official’s residences still have beautiful tiling and balconies, but are likewise now abandoned. However, some of the older places along the prom have happily been done up into hotels, which are painted charmingly bright colours, so the front still feels cheerful and attracts plenty of tourists in the high season. Another attraction of Pacasmayo is, of course, the seafood. We ate some really excellent meals, a generous set menu of starter, main, and accompanying soda costing an average of five soles (about 85p). We stayed in Pacasmayo for a couple nights, and then drove further down the PanAm, to the next big city, Trujillo. We stayed at Huanchaco, a thriving seaside resort twenty minutes outside the city. It was somewhat gaudy and overpriced, but would be a lot of fun in the high season. Trujillo town centre is, like Chiclayo, based around a central park/square. Unlike Chiclayo, it has a lot of splendid old mansions with ornate wooden window balconies. They are nice to look at, but are owned by banks and other institutions, thus making the centre of Trujillo undoubtedly aesthetically pleasing, but pretty damn boring. So we sought out the nearby ancient mud city of Chan-Chan for our cultural stimulation instead. The Tschudi palace has some surprisingly well-preserved adobe friezes of fish and birds, and was once the centre of the powerful Chimú empire (1000-1470). It seems the Chimús had quite a taste for cults, sacrifices, and erotic pottery. Jolly interesting! I was appalled at the musuem site to see Tito fondling a dog which seemed to have a serious medical condition, being almost completely without hair. However, it turned out to be a Viringo, a hairless dog unique to Peru, much favoured by the Chimú people, and now kept in pairs at every Peruvian museum to preserve the race. At second glance it was actually pretty cute, black-skinned, but with blond hair on it’s forehead, paws and tail! This started us off talking about how much we want a dog, but how it won’t be feasible for the forseeable future. Thus, we could hardly believe it when we arrived back to the house and the family came to the door with a tiny puppy! I have named her Wanpi (Japanese dogs say “wan, wan”). She is so adorable, a chocolate brown, half-Pekingese mix, and so small you can hold her with one hand. I ‘ve always wanted a dog, but never had one as they are such a tie. So this a lovely opportunity, we can enjoy Wanpi’s puppyhood, but know that when we eventually leave she won’t miss us too much, as she belongs to the whole family.

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